Watch Shallow No-Tilling

While John Pickle admits that no-tilling corn shallow will get the plants out of the ground faster, he maintains there are several other considerations to worry about when deciding how deep to plant.

If corn is no-tilled less than 1 1/2 inches deep, the veteran crop consultant from Lodi, Wis., says the corn plant is forced to grow one or more rings of nodal roots above the ground. As a result, some of the plant’s extremely valuable nodal roots are rendered ineffective.

“There are only five rings of nodal roots on the corn plant, and they are responsible for the uptake of 95 percent or more of the nutrients and moisture,” he says. “If a no-tiller plants 1 inch deep, there probably will be at least one and maybe two nodal root rings above the ground that can translate into a loss of potentially 20 to 40 percent of the plant’s capacity to uptake nutrients and moisture.”

Don’t Be Fooled

In late June or early July, Pickle says, no-tillers often think that they are seeing the development of brace roots. Unfortunately, these are really nodal roots growing above the ground.

“Because of its root development, the corn plant is designed to be planted at least 1 1/2 inches deep,” says Pickle. “While I think there is little reason to plant deeper than 2 or 2 1/2 inches, I’ve seen significant yield losses from planting only 1-inch deep. If you have more than enough moisture and high fertility, you might get…

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